Friday, May 27, 2016

title pic Diana Barry’s Bodice Underway

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 16, 2012

One of my favorite film costumes of all times is Diana Barry’s going away dress from Anne of Avonlea.   And I am so excited to finally sew a replica of this lovely Edwardian traveling gown!


“Diana, you look positively radiant!” Anne Shirley exclaimed as Diana prepared to ride off to her honeymoon.  And this was one time when Anne was not exaggerating with her superfluous language!  Diana’s going away dress was absolutely elegant with the bouffant leg-o-mutton sleeves, tight “v” belted waist, high lace collar, and pintucked bodice.

If you read last week’s post, you’ll know that I am attempting to blog about the progress of this dress while I sew it.  I prefer to only post pictures once I can actually see the finished project, but for this dress I am making an exception since I know so many other ladies have admired the costumes from this classic Edwardian film.


So for “week one” of this dress, you can see how I’ve made it at least half way through the bodice below.

After studying Diana’s on-screen outfit for a long time, I decided that I could take a standard Edwardian shirtwaist pattern and slice it up a bit to suit the needs of this project.  (I used the “Beatrix” shirtwaist pattern from


My first step for the bodice was to draw a line down the front of the bodice front to mirror the front princess seam shown in Anne of Avonlea.  Next, I slashed the pattern piece along this line and added 5/8″ to either side of the line so the bodice wouldn’t “shrink” after I sewed the two pieces together.  With these two bodice front pieces ready, I then widened the center panel by a significant amount to accomodate the necessary pintucks.  Below you can see what this panel looks like after it was sewn.


This center panel is a cotton voile over Bemberg rayon lining.

Notice how the panel widens at the bottom.  This is so that the costume will look just how it did in the film, where all the gathers which were so typical for the “pouter pigeon” look were only distributed through the center panel, leaving the side front panels straight.

With the center panel pintucked and pleated, I sewed the two front side panels to the center front panel and pressed it well.  (And of course, I always finish all my inside seams!)  Next, the bodice back was attached to the bodice front at the shoulder seams, at which point I sewed the bodice side seams.

With the most basic part of the bodice now completed, I now turned my attention to the sleeves.  I knew that the lower portion of the sleeves would be a “piece of cake” to sew, but the upper sleeves looked a little tricky – that is, until I thought of using the sleeve pattern from the “Liesl’s Dancing Dress” pattern!


The billowy sleeves from the "Liesl" dress pattern turned out to be perfect for the top portion of Diana's leg-o-mutton sleeves.

All I had to do was add a little more in the cap area for gathers and narrow the sleeve width a couple of inches, and I arrived at a sleeve very close to the film costume version!  (It will look almost identical once I have the lower sleeve attached to support the upper sleeve and keep it in place, but for now the sleeves just hang there.)

As you can see, I have only draped on the lace up till this point so you can get an idea of how the bodice is coming along.  I still need to add the shell buttons down the front of the mock placket, finish the sleeves, and attach the lace… but all in all I’d say I have at least a good start on the dress!

Stay tuned for more pictures soon!

Happy sewing,



title pic Another Royal Wedding Dress Pattern!

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 13, 2012

Remember in fall of 2011 when Butterick released their collection of bridal patterns inspired by Princess Catherine and her fabulous wedding?  If you were reading the blog back then, you’ll remember the post I wrote in great detail about the differences and similarities between the original gowns and the pattern versions.  Butterick Patterns produced designs for the Royal Wedding gown , Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid dress, and the classic flower girls’ dresses (B5731 , B5710, and B5705 , respectively).  These sewing patterns were beautifully reproduced with a few minor differences, and the photo stylists effectively made their models bear an uncanny resemblance to the actual Royal Wedding participants themselves.


You don't have to be royalty to dress like a princess!

But just recently, Simplicity has released a more loosely reproduced version of these patterns in what is quite unprecedented for Simplicity Patterns to design – it has been several years since they have offered any actual bridal gown patterns at all!  While their terribly simplified version of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress is nearly unrecognizable, the Pippa-inspired corresponding gown and the enormous blue engagement ring make the pattern unmistakably a royal wedding pattern without a doubt!

I am not putting Simplicity Patterns down for producing a wedding dress pattern which is so very different and less elegant than the original Sarah Burton gown – I understand that many seamstresses who may have been intimidated by the “advanced” sewing level of Butterick’s design can now feel comfortable sewing their own wedding dress which is merely inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge’s attire.  And I think it’s wonderful that Princess Catherine has so deeply affected brides all over the world that not one, but two major pattern companies felt the “Kate” phenomenan necessitated some royal dress pattern designs.


But the dress which I am really excited about is Simplicity’s version of Pippa’s gown!  The pattern designers took the original bias cut gown which was a bit too slinky for my liking, and raised the neckline a good three inches to make it completely modest to wear.  The Simplicity pattern is also not quite as fitted through the hip area, which would be much more forgiving and flattering than the Butterick version.  Both the wedding gown and bridesmaid dress pattern are published in the same pattern envelope, Simplicity 1909.

With a family wedding looming on the horizon, I must admit that I am tempted to consider using the new Simplicity pattern in the upcoming festivities…  But whatever dress pattern I choose, you can be sure I will change it to some extent, embellish it with Swarovski crystals and flowers, and post a dozen or so pictures when the joyous occasion takes place!

Happy sewing,


title pic The Anne of Avonlea Costume Project

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 9, 2012


If you are as much of an Anne of Avonlea costume fan as I am, I’m sure you will love my upcoming film costume project!  Watching Anne of Avonlea when I was fourteen years old was probably one of the main things that got me interested in historical costumes in the first place, and it’s little wonder considering the fabulously meticulous Edwardian gowns this film is famous for.


There’s something so feminine and enthralling about Martha Mann’s costume designs that make me want to watch the movie over and over again.  And with all those lacy, beribboned dresses, I don’t know how Anne Shirley always went around in such a depressed mood!  How can you be completely “down in the dumps” when you have such a sumptuous wardrobe?



Look at those elegant blouses and skirts!

Anne of Avonlea Costume Trivia

Costume designer Martha Mann was perfect for the Anne of Green Gables film series, as she insisted on absolute authenticity right down to the petticoats and corset covers, and had in fact met Lucy Maud Montgomery herself as a young girl! Miss Mann’s grandmother was good friends with Montgomery, and had arranged for Martha to have tea with Lucy many years prior to the film’s production.  No doubt this chance meeting in her childhood gave her unique insight into what Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters would have worn had they lived in real life.


Both the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea films were overflowing with elegant blouses, graceful tea dresses, queenly Edwardian suits, and the most incredible evening gowns!  I believe it would be safe to say that these two films have inspired more women to take up costuming perhaps more than any other period costume movie of recent history.  In fact, while traveling with Sense & Sensibility Patterns’ designer Jennie Chancey in England, I was discussing with her what had inspired her to begin costuming, and her reply was – “Anne of Green Gables”.



Those leg-o-mutton sleeves are just gorgeous for Diana's traveling dress.

Diana Barry’s Going Away Dress

Since I love all of Anne Shirley’s and Diana Barry’s costumes I hardly know where to start, but a surprise find of 12 yards of peachy-pink bengaline moire’ (a rarity nowadays) launched me into the exciting project of recreating Diana Barry’s Going Away Dress.  Remember that striking Edwardian gown that Diana wore for just a few minutes between her wedding and her departure in the carriage?  I’ll admit that this costume probably isn’t as instantly recognized as others simply because it was shown for a short amount of time, but I fell in love with Diana’s dress the first time I saw it.



These pastel gowns were highly fashionable in 1902, the year in which Anne of Avonlea was set.

Throughout the years of “Anne” on screen, Diana Barry and her wardrobe were simply elegance personified.  Diana (played by Schuyer Grant) looked so convincing as an Edwardian woman that if you saw a photo of her in black and white, you might think she had really lived one hundred years ago!  Her bouffant airbuns, combined with decidedly Victorian features and a porcelain complexion, call to mind a “Gibson Magazine” cover.  (In the second half of Anne of Avonlea, one of Anne’s students tells her the very same thing right before her departure to the ball.)


But before I ramble on for too long about how much I love these film costumes, I might as well show you the “pre-cutting” photos of my materials for this project.



I knew this moire' would turn into an Edwardian gown from the moment I laid eyes on it!

The bengaline moire’ is not as pastel as the film version, but it will probably show up better in the finished costume photos.


For the center panel of the bodice, I am layering pale peach voile over champagne colored Bemberg rayon lining.  This panel has pintucks going down it and shell buttons for decorative purposes only (as it closes down the back).

With the main fabrics decided on, I have now chosen to use an Edwardian point
d’Alencon lace from my collection for the wide lace piece that travels from the
waist in front to a curved mock-collar in back, then back to the other side of
the waist in front. This lace is not exactly as “handmade” as the almost chunky crocheted style lace on Diana’s, but it was the closest piece I could find to suit the circular shape of the collar in back.  Besides that, it was actually handed down from the Edwardian era, so this lace may have been worn on a dress very similar to this around 1900!

I have so many exciting details to share in the weeks ahead, and I will be posting regular updates to keep you informed on my progress.  I would love for you to follow along with the construction of this gown, and you are welcome to add this button to your blog if you’d like to share.

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I have dreamed for years of recreating an Anne of Avonlea costume, so you can be sure I will go “all out” with the photo shoot on this one!

Happy sewing!


P.S. All Anne of Avonlea stills are copyright by Sullivan Entertainment.  If you choose to download these to share, please do provide a link back to since I did take all the film stills myself.  Thank you!